To give you some insight into choosing the Fishing Guide or Charter that is right for you we have enlisted the help of National Bass Professional Fishing Guide, former radio talk show host and author Steve Chaconas, and Professional Bass Angler Luke Clausen.

BoatUS ANGLER: Fishing Basics

Choosing a Fishing Guide

To give you some insight into choosing the Fishing Guide or Charter that is right for you we have enlisted the help of National Bass Professional Fishing Guide, former radio talk show host and author Steve Chaconas, and Professional Bass Angler Luke Clausen.

Need more information? Use our 20 Questions Checklist when researching or contacting a potential Fishing Guide or Charter.

Choosing a Guide

by Steve Chaconas,

Capt. Steve ChaconasChoosing a guide is tricky.

I get asked a lot of questions from prospective clients. They usually focus on the fishing and maybe the type of gear, including boat I run. I think the most important question they should ask is 'What form of liability insurance coverage do you have?' It might not be the first question, but it should be the deal breaker. If they do not have a 'commercial' policy, then you might run into issues if there is a problem. Many guides try to cut corners here because complete insurance coverage costs about double or more. They will try to cover their guiding business with a regular policy...if a company finds out, they will deny claims in most cases.

They should also ask about the level of skill required for the techniques being used. Some guides are not very good teachers and are not able to teach learnable techniques to new clients. Knowing the range a guide can cover might help as well. Some guides might not be able to communicate this, so it is up client to ask sufficient questions to determine whether a guide will be able to accommodate the skill level of their trip.

Alcohol or no alcohol? If alcohol is important to your trip, you should ask about it. I do not allow alcohol on my boat, period. Some guides do. That could be very dangerous, especially if the guide joins you. If a guide allows alcohol, even if you have no interest in drinking on your trip, this might mean they will be indulging and you might want to find another guide.

Find out about the boat and equipment. A new boat offers the latest in comfort and features. Older boats can be fine too, but, a really old boat might be trouble! Ask about gear too, like spinning or bait casting reels - a good guide has both and will teach you how to use either!

Find out how to identify your guide once you get to the ramp. Sometimes cell signals don't work at marinas and you could be asking around for a while to find your guide. Ask the guide what color boat is being used. Maybe other identifiers to make sure you can find each other.

Some guides add "extras" - find out if they do before you book! This could be a charge for lost lures, or for using equipment. Gasoline charges are ones to watch for too! This should be determined before it creates a problem. Of course, you might be charged if you break a rod or drop one overboard. Read More

BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff member Capt. Steve Chaconas is a former radio and TV talk show host, who has been fishing on the Potomac River since the mid 1960's. Steve fishes local tournaments and writes for several publications covering the BASSMASTERS Tournament trail for radio and newspapers. He also hosts The National Bass Fishing Show. Steve has been featured in the Washington Post, The Washington Times, The LA Times, ESPN BassCenter, BASSMASTER Magazine, BASSIN Magazine, BoatUS Magazine and many other radio and print media outlets.

Click Here to read his BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff blog.

Visit his website at

A Guide to a Great Day

by Luke Clausen, courtesy of National Hunting & Fishing Day website

Pro Angler Luke Clausen Did you know that when you book a guide in the Florida Keys, it's customary to call the guide the night before and ask what you should bring them for lunch? But what about trout fishing in the northwest? Or bass fishing in the south? Are there unwritten rules for guides everywhere you go?

Just like you, I love to fish. Even when I have time off away from competition, I still find time to go fishing just for fun. And sometimes, just like you, I will book a guide to take me fishing. Whether it's saltwater or freshwater, the objective is all the same: you are paying them to help you catch more fish and/or access to certain water. Don't worry about the little rules though, just make sure you ask the right questions and you won't have to worry about having a bad time on your trip or offending anyone.

The things to remember about guides: there are good guides and there are bad guides; the good ones work very hard for their money. While they may know the water you are fishing like the back of their own hand, fish don't always behave accordingly. A bad day of fishing isn't always the guide's fault. But, the biggest problems that occur between anglers and guides have less to do with fishing and more to do with miscommunication.

Here's a list of things you should remember when booking your next guided fishing trip:

  • Book early whenever possible. Booking early gives you a better chance of being able to book the guide you want during the time you want. Trust the guide's advice on when the best fishing is available and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Get references. Don't ever plan a day on the water with a person you know nothing about. And don't worry about offending anyone: a reputable guide is more than willing to give you some past clients' names.
  • Be honest about your fishing abilities and let the guide know what you can and can't do. Also, let them know how much fishing you do on your own. This will help the guide better a plan an outing for you that will not only help you be more successful but will make the trip more enjoyable. Also, let the guide know up front if children will be along on the trip.
  • Determine whose gear is being used and who is providing things like lunches, snacks, drinks and other necessities. Most guides provide all of this and things like sunscreen in the price - but better to ask and not regret being hungry and sunburned later. If you want to fish with your own gear, let the guide know or let him make some gear recommendations to you.
  • Don't ever ask the guide to bend the rules - whether they are the rules of his boat (like no alcohol on board) or game laws. If the guide asks you to break a game law, don't do it.
  • Determine an exact time and place that you will meet the guide and determine how long the trip will last.
  • Don't tell the guide what to do, be respectful and helpful whenever possible.
  • Tipping is important. Remember, these guides work hard for you and should be rewarded accordingly. Standard tip for a fishing guide on a good day should be 20 percent of the day's rate for each person on board. On really good days, that tip should be even higher. If you catch a fish of a lifetime, be prepared to give the tip of a lifetime. Your generosity will not be forgotten.

Many of my fellow pros either got their starts guiding or still do guide on both fresh and saltwater when not fishing tournaments. They do it not only for the livelihood that it provides them, but because they love the sport. A great guide has a passion for fishing that he will share with everyone and that makes them a great resource to have along the next time you want to fish in some unfamiliar water.

Luke Clausen is the 2006 Bassmaster Classic winner and the youngest angler in professional fishing history to eclipse the $1 million career earnings mark.

Visit his website at

Need more information? Use our 20 Questions Checklist when researching or contacting a potential Fishing Guide or Charter.

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